The word “fudge” dates back to the seventeenth century, when it was used as a verb to describe doctored dealings: matters that had been inelegantly or dishonestly thrown together in such a way as to make them appear correctly worked. The melt-in-your-mouth fudge that most people think of when they hear the word came along much later, and was supposedly named as such because it was a fluke invention – the results of a fudged batch of caramels.
At Wockenfuss, David Koch – the lead candy maker and cousin of company owner Paul – makes a smooth rendition of the accidental dessert with our Baltimore Caramel Fudge. Butter, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and a patient and deft hand go into the creation of the old-time candy. It is chemistry, a delicate process that involves heating, cooling, and whipping – timed just so in order to avoid forming crystallized sugar that produces a grainy texture. As the story goes, the founder of Wockenfuss bought this recipe from a competitor years ago because he liked the fudge so very much and wanted to sell it in his shop. Koch himself says making it is, “a dying art, a very unique trade” (Source).
David Koch has worked at Wockenfuss for 19 years, following in his father’s foot steps, has worked his way up to being the lead candy maker . He’s just one key member of the family-owned and operated business: the company and its accompanying recipes have been passed down from generation to generation since Wockenfuss was founded.
When Charles Herman Wockenfuss dreamed up the candy store in the late 1800s, he began making candy in a building behind his house in East Baltimore. When he retired, Paul’s father, Herman Lee, took over the business and moved Wockenfuss to Belair road in the 1940s. Though they’ve expanded, moved to Harford Road, and now have eight retail locations, their candies have remained relatively unchanged, and most of the recipes for their signature sweets were developed by Charles Herman himself.
According to current owner Paul, the candy market as we know it was transformed post-WWII, when soldiers had experienced chocolate in Europe, where it was much more popular, returning home with a newfound desire for the roasted and ground cacao. Then, in the 50s, as the economy expanded, people had the luxury to spend money on goods like candy – and air conditioning – an essential ingredient in selling candy prone to melting in hot-weather temperatures like chocolate.
Paul plans to continue the tradition of Wockenfuss by passing the company on to his own three daughters when he retires, carrying on the mouthwatering recipes that have been making Wockenfuss a favorite sweet spot among Marylanders for years. Visit any one of our locations to try out the time-honored desserts for yourself.
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